Chief Relationship Officer
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Know Your Product, Love Your Product, Use Your Product
This is a preview from my new book, Currency: Striking Networking Gold in a Relationship Economy due out in February 2008. To download a preview section from the book, click here.
People want to know how to make more sales. Here’s my easy answer: get passionate about what you sell! I love to see people give their 60-second commercial about their product or service when they are passionate about what they sell.
One of the big differences between those who are successful and those who are not is their passion for and confidence in their product. You can appeal to your target audience more passionately and sincerely if you’ll follow three simple rules:
Imagine that you sell something like toilets. Now really, how excited can you get about toilets? Truthfully, there is really a lot to know about picking the perfect toilet that goes way beyond color and shape. If you strive to become an expert on all the toilets you offer in your product line, you can pass along that product knowledge to potential customers. An expert will understand the frustration of "toilet buyer regret" when customers realize they bought the wrong one — like when they sometimes have to flush the bargain toilet twice because the water conservation feature keeps it from completing the flush the first time. It’s not that easy to return a toilet that didn’t work out.
There’s a pretty big difference between the product knowledge of someone who works at a big-box home improvement store — you know the one whose experience is limited to sitting on a toilet — and a plumbing sales professional who can tell you distinctive differences between product choices.
If you know your product, you can provide the customer all the information they need to make the right buying decision so they get the toilet that meets their unique needs. Your customer gets a perfect fit and is grateful for your willingness to share your knowledge. Customers get excited about that regardless of what they are buying.
Potential buyers can sense a sales professional’s lukewarm feeling about a product or service. When you love your product and feel that your company provides excellent value (the perfect combination of price, quality, and service), it is easy to be passionate.
Mention the features but focus on the benefits. This applies to the company you work for. If you love your company, their values, and practices, and you are proud to work there, it’s easy to be passionate. Companies have a culture and reputation whether they take an active part in shaping it or not. Their business practices inside the walls of their business follow their employees out the door and into the community. If you work for an organization you aren’t proud of, RUN!
It is easy to be passionate about a product that has personally benefited you. When you use your company’s products, you send a strong message to your customer. What message does that send when an Old Navy apparel buyer doesn’t buy any of her clothes at Old Navy? What if your State Farm insurance agent buys his personal insurance from Farmers Insurance? What if your investment advisor suggests you should buy REITs but doesn't invest her own money in them? If you have the occasion to use your company’s products but don’t, can you really sell the company? If you aren't using the products or services of the company you work for — unless maybe you are a pharmaceutical representative — maybe you work for the wrong company.
Some of the best products in the world are marketed by network marketing (direct sales or multi-level-marketing) companies such as Tupperware, Pampered Chef, Nikken, and Mary Kay. They offer business opportunities where people can sign up to sell the products or just the business opportunity. There is some income potential in selling the products but the real money is made in getting others to sign up to sell the products or business opportunity too — also known as “building your team.”
The unfortunate fact is that these companies often attract the “something for nothing” people of the world who are looking for a get-rich-quick scheme. Then there are the others who spend a few months with one company and then jump to another company looking for yet a better deal. Business relationships are formed over time and require a level of trust. The most successful people in multi-level-marketing companies chose the right company for their needs and then stuck with it. Regardless of what kind of sales pitch a company gives, long-term financial success takes years to build and a consistent effort to maintain.
One of the greatest mistakes that direct sales people make is spending valuable time telling people about the business opportunity who really aren’t interested in the business opportunity. While few people are interested in another business opportunity, a larger number are interested in superior products that could improve their lives. For these people, we need to add another rule: know your product, love your product, use your product, and know who is interested in buying your product. Hmmm ... come to think of it, that's probably not a bad rule for anyone in sales.
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